Several studies have indicated potential health benefits associated with coffee consumption. These benefits might be ascribed in part to the chlorogenic acids (CGAs), the main (poly)phenols in coffee. The impact of these dietary (poly)phenols on health depends on their bioavailability. As they pass along the gastrointestinal tract, CGAs are metabolized extensively and it is their metabolites rather than the parent compounds that predominate in the circulatory system. This article reports on a study in which after incubation of espresso coffee with human fecal samples, high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) were used to monitor CGA breakdown and identify and quantify the catabolites produced by the colonic microflora. The CGAs were rapidly degraded by the colonic microflora and over the 6-h incubation period, 11 catabolites were identified and quantified. The appearance of the initial degradation products, caffeic and ferulic acids, was transient, with maximum quantities at 1 h. Dihydrocaffeic acid, dihydroferulic acid, and 3-(3'-hydroxyphenyl)propionic acid were the major end products, comprising 75-83% of the total catabolites, whereas the remaining 17-25% consisted of six minor catabolites. The rate and extent of the degradation showed a clear influence of the composition of the gut microbiota of individual volunteers. Pathways involved in colonic catabolism of CGAs are proposed and comparison with studies on the bioavailability of coffee CGAs ingested by humans helped distinguish between colonic catabolites and phase II metabolites of CGAs.